Microsoft Reinvents its Supply Chain by Leveraging SAP Ariba & Intrigo Systems

Microsoft Corp. has one of the most complex supply chains in the world.

And to keep it humming and ensure supply keeps up with demand for its hottest products, the company is reinventing its supply chain.

In a newly released Webcast (watch the video above), the company discusses how it is teaming with SAP Ariba and Intrigo Systems to create a scalable, modern platform to support the efficient, cost-effective manufacturing of its most popular products, including the Xbox and Surface.

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. And our strategy to achieve this is to build best-in-class systems and platforms and productivity systems,” said Ali Khaki, Principal PM, Supply Chain Engineering, Microsoft.

“When we looked at our supply chain, it was clear we needed to build a flexible, scalable platform that could support the complexity of our hardware business.”

And it is using SAP Ariba solutions for direct spend to do it.

“The Ariba® Network is the backbone for Xbox and Surface line of products supply chain,” Khaki said.

Through the Ariba Network and the cloud-based applications delivered on it – including SAP Ariba Supply Chain Collaboration™, Microsoft has created a modern platform from which it can safely and easily collaborate with multiple tiers of contract manufacturers and suppliers across key supply chain planning and execution processes, including:

  1. Sharing production forecasts, orders, quality, and inventory information.
  2. Anticipating and resolving supply assurance problems.
  3. Onboarding suppliers.

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How intelligent automation will impact and revitalise global supply chains

The idea of automation in manufacturing and the supply chain is nothing new – since the earliest days of the industrial revolution we have sought to automate tasks with machines, and lower the cost of manufacturing processes.

In countless cases, the application of machines, and more recently software, has meant improvements in the consistency of products, facilitated near 24/7/365 production and has meant staff can be focused on higher value tasks in their company.

Yet the use of technology in the industry may not be fully understood; a recent Capgemini survey showed that nearly half (48%) of UK office workers are optimistic about the impact automation technologies can have. However, while respondents to the survey had a general idea of the benefits that might accrue, they were less clear as to how these technologies could be applied to their specific area of work. And worryingly, only 20% said they felt their organisations were currently benefiting from automation – clearly the industry is missing a trick.

However, as utilisation stagnates for certain companies, the market is maturing. Automation is now reaching far beyond simple process software and mechanisation. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cognitive computing, advanced robotics, Digital Fabrication and blockchain are becoming increasingly popular, bringing together the power of automation and analytics.

Yet other areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which are proven enablers for new ways of optimizing the supply chain and manufacturing processes, are less understood. It’s agile, forward-thinking businesses that are able to utilise these technologies in a thoughtful way that will reap the benefits.

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Comment: Industry 4.0 is disrupting the supply chain for good

The impact of Industry 4.0 could easily be identified as a threat and a disruptor to the traditional supply chain. The truth is that, when deployed correctly, this dynamic combination is the antidote to supply chain disruption.

In 2016, global supply chains were impacted by a series of unfortunate natural disasters including earthquakes and typhoons that ravaged nations throughout Asia. In 2015, analysis by insurance firm Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty found that between 2010 and 2014, the top five causes of business interruption loss globally were fires and explosions, storms, machinery breakdowns, faulty equipment or materials, and workforce strikes.

Current events that are continually unfolding must also be considered, such as the economic nationalism propelled by the election of Donald Trump and the UK’s impending exit from the European Union. However, there are less dramatic situations that can cause supply chain disruption on a more frequent basis – small acts than have a large impact, such as human error causing delays on the production line. This creates an obvious knock-on effect that directly impacts the rest of the supply chain.

It is clear that the supply chain is vulnerable to disruption. The traditional supply chain ecosystem is built around a rigid process that does not provide supply chain organisations with the flexibility to adjust to disruptions that will impact the bottom line, or the opportunity to predict or prepare for those disruptions.

The traditional process is typically governed by inaccurate analysis of the market that dictates supply chain operations in order to meet the predicted sales. A digitised reinvention of the supply chain will replace this inaccurate, siloed process with a flexible and agile solution that utilises data to severely diminish the impact of disruption.

Industry of Things

The moniker Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution which in turn refers to the rise of data exchange and automation in manufacturing technologies. ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is a similar term that supports the same notion of the world becoming more connected and is widely used to describe connected devices used in both industrial and domestic environments. In theory, connected devices, whether in a factory or in the home, bring all of these environments together to create one interconnected eco-system.

Disseminating the data

From the shop floor to the factory floor, each connected device provides important data that can be fed into the digitised supply chain. To be of true value, this data must be tracked and visualised. Visibility is a key area of focus in leveraging data in the evolution of Industry 4.0, and it’s equally as important in the supply chain. Once the data is feeding into the supply chain and clearly visualised, the organisation can begin to think about disruptions before they occur. This can be achieved by manipulating the data in three key areas; supply chain design, event simulation and decision support.

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The secret to making customers care about supply chain

Imagine a world where customers care about how products are sourced, made, and delivered, understand what goes into pricing, and generally take great joy in the experience. A world where customers are fluent in the language of supply chain.

It’s not as farfetched as you may think.

Supply chains solve complex problems. And in the company of supply chain professionals, we use big words and complicated terms to talk about it. Words like multi-modal logistics and global transportation, mass-customisation and postponement, procurement and letters of credit, demand management, the cost of inventory and buffer stock, assurance of supply, warehousing, and the last mile.

We nitpick over the differences between distribution and fulfilment centres, debate the true definition of supply chain visibility and the role of control towers to support orchestration across a complex network of suppliers, trading partners, and carriers. And we’re still not sure if our industries are facing an apocalypse or simply working through the growing pains of transformation in the digital age.

It’s a mouthful. And as we dive into the technical details and jargon that comprise the modern language of supply chain, one can’t help but picture the average consumer’s eyes glazing over.

But that’s not necessarily the case. There’s mounting evidence people care more about supply chain than ever – they’re just not using our words for it.

Therein lies the secret.

The words used to describe supply chain were different at the recent Shoptalk Europe conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a gathering of more than 2,500 retailers, start-ups, technologists, and investors all focused on the worlds of retail, fashion, and ecommerce. Though most attendees weren’t purely in the business of operations and supply chain, all were exploring how to reach, engage, and enlighten the customer wherever and whenever they might choose to shop.

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6 Ways Quality Can Strengthen Supply Chain Profitability

To thrive in today’s competitive global business environment, manufacturers must have a top-to-bottom quality-oriented approach that infuses innovative thinking into every part of the supply chain in order to deliver world-class performance through products, processes and people.

Some promising news, according to a recently published report by Forbes Insights and ASQ, is that senior executives and quality professionals see a direct connection between the success of their continuous improvement initiatives and the success of their organizations as a whole.

The Forbes Insights/ASQ research surveyed 1,869 executives and quality professionals from around the world and focused on the links between quality efforts and corporate performance, as well as the evolving business value of quality and its relationship to the supply chain. Thirty-six percent of enterprises surveyed said that they regard themselves as an established quality organization, while 39% reported that they are still developing their quality programs and 25% said they are struggling to implement quality in their companies.

For those organizations that do have established quality programs, more than half say their initiatives already encompass a range of key corporate functions, including operations and supply chain management.

This focus on quality for the supply chain is especially crucial when one recognizes that supply chain management is often motivated to achieve the least cost when identifying and qualifying new suppliers. Supply chain leaders are often rewarded for these cost-savings. But then extra costs are incurred once the final product is manufactured and delivered and it is discovered that reworks are required due to the focus on price and not quality.

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Asda and Co-op to work together to drive supply chain efficiencies

Asda and the Co-op are pioneering a new way of supply chain collaboration, by enabling mutual suppliers to submit aggregated data on waste, water and energy to both retailers at the same time.

The retailers are working with collaboration platform 2degrees to collect the sustainability data.

Under the agreement, suppliers who serve both retailers can submit the data once, indicating their combined data should be shared with both customers.

It is hoped that by eliminating the need for duplicated information, suppliers will be able to spend more time focussing on the delivery of quality products whilst saving on time, money and resources.

Both retailers have seen suppliers benefit from the platforms delivered by 2degrees. The Co-op, one of the founding partners of multi-client platform Manufacture 2030 has already seen a drinks supplier start addressing their carbon footprint through the platform.

Andy Horrocks of Kingsland Drinks, said: “We are looking closely at a case study shared by another drinks supplier on Manufacture 2030, and using it as a model of how this key environmental process could be done, helping us to sell the idea internally.”

Princes Limited is a key supplier to both Asda and Co-op, and has spoken of the benefits of aligned data.

David McDiarmid, Corporate Relations Director at Princes Ltd, commented: “It’s great that two retailers like Co-op and Asda have embraced this approach. With all our manufacturing locations sharing their data between these customers we have cut down duplicated effort, saving time and making the entire process a lot more efficient.

“I hope other retailers will see the benefits of such a collaborative approach and consider it for their suppliers environmental reporting.”

Read more at Asda and Co-op to work together to drive supply chain efficiencies

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Hurricane Harvey Causing Concern for Ground Freight Operations

While it is no surprise that a hurricane can cause hazardous weather conditions for the trucking industry, it is always important to be vigilant, check reliable sources of weather information, and heed the postings of local, state, and federal emergency management.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if your shipping schedule takes you into or near the impacted areas of Hurricane Harvey:

Hurricane is much more than a storm that impacts the landfall location.

The media pays great attention to the point of landfall; however, serious impacts of Harvey will be felt more than 200 miles from the eye of the storm.

The most notable impacts to be aware and cautious of are:

High winds and wind gusts

At the time of this writing, Harvey is expected to be packing sustained winds of 115 mph, with gusts up to 140 mph when it makes landfall.

Flooding

Even as this hurricane is downgraded to a tropical storm or even a tropical depression, the amount of rainfall expected as the storm lingers along the coastline is staggering.

Severe weather

Severe thunderstorm outbreaks often occur in the outer bands of a storm.

The best advice for all is to simply avoid the broadly impacted area of this storm leading up to and for the days following landfall. If you are unable to avoid the area, obey postings, road closures, and recommendations from emergency management officials in the area.

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Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility & Connectivity

Through the rich integration of experienced supply chain professionals, world class technology, and customer insights, C.H. Robinson is reinventing global supply chains by making them more prescriptive, automated and efficient.

Navisphere Vision continues to advance the powerful and proven capabilities of C.H. Robinson’s proprietary Navisphere technology platform.

Microsoft, an innovator in fulfillment and logistics capabilities and a customer of C.H. Robinson’s TMC division, has been using Navisphere Vision since its alpha release in 2016.

“Navisphere Vision helps us understand the things that we couldn’t before. It provides the visualization that connects data and the real-time events that are happening within our supply chain,” said Alaina Hawkins, senior manager of global logistics at Microsoft.

“Navisphere Vision helps us make decisions on a more precise, real-time level so we can address any challenges that might occur, react in a less randomized fashion, create predictability throughout our supply chain, and increase collaboration so we can deliver our products to customers on time. It’s tremendously powerful.”

In addition to providing real-time visibility down to an SKU level, Navisphere Vision delivers insights and impacts of potential disruptions from weather, traffic or current events, as well as predictive analytics to help shippers make better, faster decisions.

Read more at Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility & Connectivity

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Analysis – what impact will Brexit have on supply chain operations?

Brexit is a great uncertainty for businesses operating cross-border. Therefore, it is crucial for companies operating complex supply chains to consider the implications of Brexit on their businesses.

A PESTLE is an analysis tool that provides an understanding of the factors and external changes to the business, which may impact their ability to operate and thrive.

In this article, Nicholas Hallam considers the elements of Brexit that are out of the control and influence of businesses, but which they should still be planning for, as well as the proactive steps they can take to guide strategic decision making.

Political

Brexit has been an intensely political issue – from the original promise of the In/Out referendum (made by David Cameron to prevent a haemorrhaging of Tory support to UKIP) right through to the political and legal disputes about the triggering of Article 50 and the ongoing controversy about the trade-off between free movement and the single market. The debate – which cuts across traditional political alignments – pits sovereignty against efficiency, and the citizens of definite somewhere against free-flowing globalists.

Economic

The UK runs a constant trade deficit with the EU. While the UK’s biggest individual export trade partner is the US, over 62% of all exports went to the 27 EU Member States during Q1 2017, totalling £33.1 billion. And during this time-period the UK’s top import partner was also an EU Member State, Germany (£17.6 billion worth of goods).

Social

While Brexit essentially means untangling the links that the UK has with the EU, there are many ways in which we will stay connected irreversibly. Some of the biggest technological advances in recent years – such as smart phones and social media – have been made to connect people no matter their location, language or economic status. So, while the government may have a protectionist ethos, it may be increasingly impractical to implement to live up to most people’s expectations and habits.

Read more at Analysis – what impact will Brexit have on supply chain operations?

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Trax Expands Leadership Team With CRO Hire

Trax Technologies, a global innovator specializing in harnessing logistics data and insights to improve supply chain performance, announced today the company has expanded its’ leadership team with the appointment of Christopher Rajiah as the Chief Revenue Officer. Rajiah is responsible for setting and executing the company’s go-to-market strategy in order to scale the organization and solidify its position as the market leader for freight audit & payment and supply chain data management.

The executive appointment follows the additions of Elizabeth Hart as CAO and Benjamin Morens as COO in 2016. The expansion of the leadership team comes as Trax Technologies experiences significant product adoption as it transforms the freight audit and payment process to improve supply chain performance. Trax provides freight audit and payment services as a cornerstone of its cloud-based logistics performance management solution combining leading controls, supply chain data management, financial classification, and business analytics to deliver accurate, meaningful and actionable intelligence to its global customers.

“Chris’s extensive experience in successfully driving and executing global sales initiatives and growing strategic partnerships will be incredibly valuable as we continue to innovate, develop new capabilities, and extend Trax’s industry leadership,” said Don Baptiste, Trax Technologies CEO. “I’m excited to have him on our team.”

Rajiah joins from Equinix, where he served as VP of Worldwide Channel Partners and Alliances. Prior to Equinix, Chris was SVP Sales & Marketing at ViaWest, as well as the Vice President of Worldwide Partner Sales at Rackspace Hosting. Chris also spent 9 years at Extreme Networks, where he started his career, and, eventually, led their North American channel and worldwide strategic alliance teams.

Read more at Trax Expands Leadership Team With CRO Hire

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